Shakespeare’s Origin

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Will in the World
By Stephen Greenblatt

Narrated by Peter Jay Fernandez

Stephen Greenblatt (Author, Shakespeare historian)

“Will in the World” is a clever investigation of William Shakespeare’s life and a speculation about the origin of Shakespeare’s fictional characters. 

It is clever because Shakespeare’s life is revealed in the context of 16th and 17th century English history; not just the sparsely documented facts of his life.  Though highly speculative, theatrical character development is dredged from “facts” about Shakespeare’s “friends” and family.      

Greenblatt recounts Shakespeare’s childhood by picturing school in the 16th century for a boy from a respected family in England.

Shakespeare’s father is a magistrate in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England when Will begins school.  Will develops a precocious and consuming interest in words, acting, and writing. 

However, Shakespeare’s father falls from grace.  He loses his status and income through either malfeasance in office, alcoholism, or financial mismanagement.  Will is unable to attend college because of its cost. His father’s need for help in the family business, and/or his father’s personal troubles are likely influences in Shakespeare’s writing.

Will Shakespeare lives in a time of religious upheaval in England when the Anglican Church is competing with the Roman Catholic Church.  Shakespeare’s father may have been caught in the conflict as a secretly sympathizing Roman Catholic.  Additionally, Will’s father may have been illegally participating in the wool trade. 

Many speculations but few facts drive William Shakespeare to London where he joins a theater group after marrying a woman several years older than himself in Stratford.  Shakespeare returns periodically to Stratford-upon-Avon, has 3 children by his Stratford wife, and retires there at age 50.

Greenblatt thinks Shakespeare’s relatively early retirement (although he dies 3 years later) is thematically reflected in “The Tempest”. “The Tempest” is one of Shakespeare’s last plays to have been written by him alone. Greenblatt is referring to Prospero (The Tempest’s main character) and his renunciation of magic as Shakespeare’s goodbye to the theater.

The London theater group that Shakespeare joins is made up of college educated players that come from mostly poor, but from some well-to-do families. 

All but one of the group die in their third decade of life.  The proximate causes of their early death are hard drinking, boisterous living, London’s recurring plagues, and general profligacy. Their antics are a possible source of some characters in Shakespeare’s plays; e.g. Falstaff is thought to be drawn from a player named Robert Greene (a jealous rival of Shakespeare’s). 

Greenblatt jumps in and out of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets with several suggestions about where they may reflect something or someone in William Shakespeare’s life.  Greenblatt suggests that the death of Shakespeare’s son and later his father became a part of theme and character in “Hamlet”.  The plausibility of that conjecture is in the consuming love of Hamlet for his murdered father.

“Will in the World” is beautifully narrated by Peter Jay Fernandez; his Shakespearean’ quotes remind one of great theatre’ experiences.

Greenblatt’s interweaving of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets with 16th and 17th century England, his interpretation of Shakespeare’s greatest plays and sonnets, and his interesting speculation about Shakespeare’s life are all good reasons to give this book a listen.

WRITING

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough
(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Stein on Writing
By Sol Stein
Narrated by Christopher Lane

Sol Stein (Author, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief for Stein and Day Publishers)

Sol Stein’s book, narrated by Christopher Lane, offers a road map to readers and writers.

Readers/Listeners/Writers will find the crossroads of commercial and literary success in “Stein on Writing”. Not all literary classics are commercially successful and not all commercially successful books are literary classics.


Stein’s book is a writer’s road map. Stein’s map reveals where a story begins, which roads to follow, and where a story ends. He explains how to write action-ably.

Writers that follow Stein’s map see the highways and streets of writing a good story. An interpretation of what Stein explains would be: Do not write “he was upset”, write, “He hurled an ash tray through a living room window, sprinkling wet shards of glass across a brown patch of grass”.

The first line, “he was upset” is vague. It tells the reader what to think. The second line, “He hurled an ashtray…”, lets a reader come to their own conclusion. It makes the reader decide about a character’s mood. It offers a scene that stimulates a reader’s imagination.

The action of the line above uses what Stein calls “particularity” to focus a reader’s attention. The scene offers clues about a character’s life (an ashtray and a brown patch of grass). The value of using “particularity” sparks interest in knowing more about the ash tray thrower.

Sol notes that a good writer is emoting readers. A good writer wants the reader to feel a character’s emotion. To Stein, a good writer does not tell the reader what to think. Stein wants the writer to make the reader feel what the character feels. On Stein’s map, this is the beginning of good story telling.

Think about Charles Dickens and “David Copperfield” and how a reader becomes invested in David’s life; i.e. how David’s sad and happy feelings invest in the reader’s emotions.

Stein acknowledges some writing details may be lost in commercially successful books but no highways and few streets are lost by a great writer. Interestingly, Stein suggests the techniques of commercially successful and literary writers are the same.

  1. A cohesive theme ties a story together.
  2. The use of particularity provides a trail of clues to a story’s theme.
  3. The use of suspense draws a reader deeper into a story.

Stein notes differences between commercial and literary writing appear in accurate use of language, in universal emotive qualities of story, and in insight to human nature. However, Stein argues that a commercially successful book can miss many of these characteristics; while a classic misses few.

Stein explains the craft of writing is a store owner’s job; always there because he/she owns the business.

  • Write every day.
  • Rewrite every day.
  • Use the dictionary.
  • Use the thesaurus.
  • Look for the perfect word that precisely defines the meaning of the idea.
  • Strive for perfection by finding the right hook to begin a report, a book, or story; keep striving with each paragraph.

Stein offers more and says it better.  This is a book for the reference shelf; to be read; to be listened to; again and again.

DANTE’S HEAVEN AND HELL

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Modern Scholar: Dante and His Divine Comedy

The Modern Scholar-Dante and His Divine Comedy

Lectures By Timothy B. Shutt

 Narrated by Timothy B. Shutt 

timothy-shutt
PROFESSOR TIMOTHY SHUTT

Timothy Shutt’s lectures on “The Divine Comedy” are a valuable guide to understanding Dante’s masterpiece.

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Alighieri is a wealthy aristocrat that represents a major leadership faction in 13th century Italy, the “White Gulphs”, which are vying for power with the Ghibelline.

The origin of the story seems simple but its meaning is complex and revelatory.  Dante Alighieri is a wealthy aristocrat that represents a major leadership faction in 13th century Italy, the “White Gulphs”, which are vying for power with the Ghibelline.  Their conflict is over the integrity of the Pope in Rome when the papal enclave is to be relocated to Avignon, France.  The move occurs in 1309 and lasts for 67 years.

POPE BONIFACE VIII (1294-1303)
POPE BONIFACE VIII (1294-1303) Pope Boniface VIII sides with the Ghibelline to over throw the Gulphs and excommunicate Dante.  Dante loses his political position, his wealth, and coincidentally, the life of the woman he loves, Beatrice.

Pope Boniface VIII sides with the Ghibelline to over throw the Gulphs and excommunicate Dante.  Dante loses his political position, his wealth, and coincidentally, the life of the woman he loves, Beatrice.  This crushing change in Dante’s life compels him to complete (between 1308 and 1321) what Shutt calls the greatest single piece of literature ever written.

Over a century before Martin Luther posts the “95 Theses” objecting to the church’s sale of indulgences; i.e. the sale of “the word” is a preeminent issue between the Gulphs and the Ghibelline.  Pope Boniface betrays the Gulph Christian community by siding with the Ghibelline who endorse sale of indulgences.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Martin Luther (1483-1546) Over a century before Martin Luther posts the “95 Theses” objecting to the church’s sale of indulgences, the sale of “the word” is a preeminent issue between the Gulphs and the Ghibelline.

The Pope, in Dante’s view, is a traitor to his community.  In the pit of Dante’s despair, he creates an image of purgatory.  He writes of a hell and heaven that crystallizes human belief in the divine.  Virgil becomes Dante’s guide on an imagined journey from earth, to purgatory, to hell, and back.

Dante meets the souls of the dead and explains where they are, what sin they committed, what fate awaits them, and why some sins are greater than others.  Dante reveals how all sins in life may only be forgiven with the grace of God.  The keys to heaven lay in asking God’s forgiveness before death.

Dante defines sin, and redemption.  Human death places souls in one of three places; i.e. purgatory, hell, or heaven.  All sins are not created equal but all humankind begins life in sin and can only be redeemed through good works, baptism, forgiveness, and the grace of God.

Good works alone do not protect one from hell, or purgatory.  It seems all transgressions can be forgiven but only with a request for grace from God before death.  Sins have a weighted hierarchy; i.e. lust as the lesser; while being a traitor to one’s community is the greatest sin of all.

danteinferno_400x606
Sins have a weighted hierarchy; i.e. lust as the lesser; while being a traitor to one’s community is the greatest sin of all. Hell is perdition for eternity with no surcease of pain or opportunity for escape.  Heaven is a place of eternal rest, peace, and love.

Dante's 3 Headed Devil
The devil does not speak but has three faces with three stuffed mouths that eternally chew on the bodies of three traitors; i.e. Brutus, Cassius, and Judas—the greatest of earth’s sinners in Dante’s poem.

Dante’s hell is sometimes hot and sometimes cold—just below the ninth and lowest circle of hell, Dante sees Lucifer who dwells in an ice-cold wasteland.  The devil does not speak but has three faces with three stuffed mouths that eternally chew on the bodies of three traitors; i.e. Brutus, Cassius, and Judas—the greatest of earth’s sinners in Dante’s poem.  Surprisingly, some say, Pope Boniface VIII is at the eighth circle of hell; presumably because his betrayal was the lesser of Dante’s selected and unrepentant traitors.

After passing through the final depth of hell, Virgil guides Dante back to the beginning of the journey; here, Dante meets the soul of Beatrice. Virgil leaves, and Dante accompanies Beatrice in a journey to heaven.

Dante’s heaven encompasses all that is known and unknown.  Dante journeys to the planets and stars.  He sees God and views an inversion of time and space.  He finds earth is the center of all that is God and that nothing exists that is not created by God.

Dante's heaven
Dante’s heaven encompasses all that is known and unknown.  Dante journeys to the planets and stars.  He sees God and views an inversion of time and space.  He finds earth is the center of all that is God and that nothing exists that is not created by God.

purgatory
Purgatory may be a way-station to heaven for a believer that is cleansed of their sin, or it may be an eternal home for the traitor, non-believer, or pagan. 

Heaven is a circle of angels that dance and spin so fast that heaven and God are everywhere at all times and in all places.  There are degrees of heaven but all who are worthy will have eternal life.  Degrees of heaven have no consequence to those who dwell in higher or lower levels because they are happy in their place–without envy; and with acceptance, and grace for the imperfection of their souls.

Purgatory may be a way-station to heaven for a believer that is cleansed of their sin, or it may be an eternal home for the traitor, non-believer, or pagan.  Hell is perdition for eternity with no surcease of pain or opportunity for escape.  Heaven is a place of eternal rest, peace, and love.

One is overwhelmed by Dante’s genius whether or not he/she is a believer.  Shutt gives one a better understanding of who Dante was and why “The Divine Comedy” is a classic.

 

 

BESTSELLER

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Great American Bestsellers: The Books That Shaped America

Great American Bestsellers

5 Star

Published by: The Great Courses

Lectures by:  Professor Peter Conn

PETER CONN (AUTHOR, VARTAN GREGORIAN EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA)
PETER CONN (AUTHOR, VARTAN GREGORIAN EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA)

Professor Peter Conn prefaces his lectures on “Great American Bestsellers” by noting a bestseller’ label is not necessarily a measure of good or great writing but of popular consumption.

Historically, bestseller has meant high purchase volume for a book; usually, higher than expected.  In the modern age, a bestseller label is often degraded by publishers; i.e. it is used as a marketing ploy rather than a measure of sales volume.

However, by more accurate measure of popular consumption, Conn argues bestsellers shape American culture, either by reinforcing or changing the direction of cultural norms. The books Conn identifies are American bestsellers because they fulfill two criteria.  One, the books Conn selects and reviews are widely purchased.  Two, Conn’s bestseller’ selections arguably reflect or shape American’ belief.

Most books Conn selects are well-known today.  A few, like “The Bay Psalm Book”, “Ragged Dick”, and (at least to me) “The House of Mirth”, are obscure.  Some of Conn’s selections have been reviewed by me in the past; e. g. Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”, Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth”,  John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”, Richard Wright’s “Native Son”, and Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22”,  Each of these books profoundly shape my view of America; partly from personal experience, but mostly from an author’s ability to paint pictures of others’ lives.

RIGHTS OF MAN
THOMAS PAINE’S – RIGHTS OF MAN

These lectures are informative.  Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man” is as relevant today as it was in the nineteenth century.  It became a best seller because it reflected rising discontent with the direction of government.  Todays’ political demonstrations offer similar resentment about elected representatives and an election system (now corrupted by money) that Paine railed against when writing about the rights of man.

uncle tom's cabin
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE’S – UNCLE TOM’S CABIN

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is another bestseller that moves modern readers with as much force as it did in the 1850s.  Conn recounts the apocryphal (likely untrue) story of Abraham Lincoln’s welcome for Stowe to the White House—“So this is the little lady who started the great war”.

It is interesting to find that Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is criticized for what might be called “Black Samboing”.  The last half of the book reflects a characterization of Huck’s companion, Jim, a runaway slave who compels Finn to choose between what is morally or legally right.  The last half of the adventure makes Jim look like “Black Sambo”; i.e. one who shucks and grins rather than seeks freedom and the right to be treated as a human being.  Twain seems to covet laughter at the expense of truth.

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens 1835-1910)
It is interesting to find that Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is criticized for what might be called “Black Samboing”.

Conn identifies why Twain is a puzzle that confounds critics’ understanding.  On the one hand, Twain is a man ahead of his time; on another he is a huckster seducing his audience with stereotypical and offensive characterizations of the poor and uneducated.  Twain is an acquired taste; i.e. bitter like beer or coffee that either dulls or sharpens one’s senses.

Native Son
Professor Conn tells of Richard Wrights’ hard life and its lessons in “Native Son”.  It is a story of what being Black in America means.

“Native Son”, the first bestseller by an African-American, is a compelling and brutal picture of the consequences of discrimination.  Conn tells of Richard Wrights’ hard life and its lessons in “Native Son”.  It is a story of what being Black in America means.  Many consequences of Wrights’ hard life are still being played out today.

In 24 lectures, Conn surveys many of yesterdays’ bestsellers; some of which have outlived their relevance but many that continue to speak “…volumes about the nation’s cultural climate” (a partial quotation from the publicist of the series).

ARTISTS’ BAD BOY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Caravaggio, A Life Sacred and Profane

CARAVAGGIO

4 Star Symbol

By Andrew Graham-Dixon

Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini

ANDREW GRAHAM-DIXON (ART CRITIC-JUDGE FOR THE TURNER PRIZE, BP NATIONAL PORTRAIT PRIZE,& ANNUAL BRITISH ANIMATION AWARDS)
ANDREW GRAHAM-DIXON (ART CRITIC-JUDGE FOR THE TURNER PRIZE, BP NATIONAL PORTRAIT PRIZE,& ANNUAL BRITISH ANIMATION AWARDS)

Caravaggio is artists’ bad boy of early sixteenth century Italy.  Born in 1571, Caravaggio arrives in the midst of religious turmoil between European Catholic nations and the Ottoman Empire. Caravaggio comes to life in Andrew Graham-Dixon’s biography.  Graham-Dixon explores the light and dark of Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio’s short life.

Graham-Dixon suggests Caravaggio’s life is self-formed by circumstance of history, the political connection of Caravaggio’s family, and a rebellious nature of a boy who loses his father at the age of six. A self-formed life is a description of Caravaggio’s growth to manhood because it suggests Caravaggio’s artistic ability comes from inner drive more than formal education.  Though Caravaggio is apprenticed to painters in his youth, their contribution to his artistic ability is obscured by differences in what Caravaggio paints and what his teacher’s taught.

CARAVAGGIO-BOY PEELING FRUIT (THE EARLIST KNOWN WORK 1592-1593)
CARAVAGGIO-BOY PEELING FRUIT (THE EARLIEST KNOWN WORK 1592-1593)

Use of light and shade (chiaroscuro) reflects an early break with what teachers taught and what Caravaggio could do.  In his early work, the beginnings of Caravaggio’s genius are shown. Even though the subject “Boy Peeling Fruit” shows immature dimensional perspective, Caravaggio’s beginning use of light and dark dramatically highlights his subject.  As time passes, Caravaggio skillfully improves chiaroscuro to further dramatize his work.

Graham-Dixon recounts Martin Scorsese’s 1960s comments about Caravaggio’s cinematic sense.  Caravaggio’s paintings tell stories of the bible known by the public, but known more symbolically than literally.  Caravaggio’s work dramatizes biblical stories.  The dramatic finger probe of Jesus by Thomas cinematically illustrates Christ has risen from the dead.  From the frown on doubting Thomas’s face to Thomas’s dirty fingers, the biblical story becomes graphically real.CARAVAGGIO-DOUBTING THOMAS

CARAVAGGIO-DOUBTING THOMAS (DETAIL OF THE EXTENDED FINGER, ITS DIRT& REMINISCENT MICHELANGELO SISTINE CHAPPEL HAND)
CARAVAGGIO-DOUBTING THOMAS (DETAIL OF THE EXTENDED FINGER, ITS DIRT& REMINISCENT MICHELANGELO SISTINE CHAPEL HAND) From the frown on doubting Thomas’s face to Thomas’s dirty fingers, the biblical story becomes graphically real.

At times, Caravaggio went too far and displeased his benefactor with biblical interpretations that offended social propriety.  In St. Matthew and the Angel, the intimacy of the angel and St. Mathew offended his client.  A second version had to be painted before Caravaggio would be paid.

www.mikeyangels.co.uk
In St. Matthew and the Angel, the intimacy of the angel and St. Mathew offended his client.

CARAVAGGIO-ST MATTHEW AND THE ANGEL-(THE REVISION)
CARAVAGGIO-ST MATTHEW AND THE ANGEL-(THE REVISION)

Caravaggio paints from models of working people of his time to make stories of the bible more true to Jesus’s time.  Jesus walks among the poor, the bereft, and sinners of society.  Caravaggio’s characters are workers, prostitutes (courtesans), and gamblers like “The Cardsharps…” or his sexualized “Cupid as Victor”.  He shows the dirty feet of a visitor to “Madonna of Loreto”.

CARAVAGGIO-THE CARDSHARPS AND THE FORTUNE TELLER
CARAVAGGIO-THE CARDSHARPS AND THE FORTUNE TELLER

CARAVAGGIO-CUPID AS VICTOR (A STORY OF V'S-SENSUALITY OF HUMAN BEINGS)
Caravaggio’s characters are workers, prostitutes (courtesans), and gamblers like “The Cardsharps…” or his sexualized “Cupid as Victor”.

MADONNA OF LORRETO (Below shows the dirty feet of a visitor.)

Graham-Dixon’s infers Caravaggio is a profligate sinner himself.  Caravaggio is described as a person who wears black to obscure his visage at night when he is raising hell with his friends and enemies.  Caravaggio violates the law by carrying a sword without a license; by brawling in local brothels, and practicing alleged bi-sexual acts.  Graham-Dixon suggests Caravaggio may have been a pimp to subsidize his income. Graham-Dixon also suggests pimping may have provided models for his art.  Finally, Caravaggio kills a man and is sentenced to death.

Caravaggio is recorded by witnesses and in trials to have a volatile temper.  Though the biographer mentions artist’s behavior was sometimes affected by lead and other contaminants of their paint, Graham-Dixon does not conclude Caravaggio’s behavior is caused by a painter’s occupational hazard.  In 2010, lead poisoning is found in what is believed to have been Caravaggio’s remains.  But, Graham-Dixon reports no one really knows exactly where Caravaggio is buried.  Were those remains Caravaggio’s?

KNIGHTS OF MALTA
KNIGHTS OF MALTA (Caravaggio made many enemies but no one knows for sure what caused his death.  Graham-Dixon believes a vendetta, by a member of the Knights of Malta, is the proximate cause of Caravaggio’s death.)

Graham-Dixon concludes the biography with an explanation of Caravaggio’s mysterious death.  Caravaggio made many enemies but no one knows for sure what caused his death.  Graham-Dixon believes a vendetta, by a member of the Knights of Malta, is the proximate cause of Caravaggio’s death.  Caravaggio, when he tries to become a Knight of Malta to escape the death sentence for an earlier murder, insults one of the Knights.  The insult goes unsatisfied and is compounded by Caravaggio’s abandonment of the Knights of Malta when he believes he will get a pardon for his crimes from Rome.  Graham-Dixon suggests the insulted Knight catches up with Caravaggio and severely cuts his face.  Several months later, Caravaggio is still recovering from the wounds when notice comes to him that upon return to Rome, he would receive his pardon.

Caravaggio packs his bags and his last three paintings and heads for Rome.  The trip is by ship.  The voyage includes a stop before arriving in Rome.  At the stop, for an unknown reason, Caravaggio is retained by a local sheriff.  The boat sails without him.  When Caravaggio is released, he buys a horse to meet the departed ship at its next port before Rome.  Caravaggio is still recovering from his wounds.  When he arrives at a port, he is sick unto death with fever and exhaustion.  Some days later, he dies at the age of 38.

Art history moves on, but Caravaggio marked a pivot point in the meaning of art.  Painting became more than symbolic representation; i.e. it became a cinematic representation of the real world.  The imperfection of humankind, both physically and spiritually became a part of art’s story about life.  Caravaggio’s art reflects on the violence of life, the imperfection of humankind, the doubts of human belief in God, and the nature of human beings.

CARAVAGGIO (JUDITH BEHEADING HOLFERNES)
CARAVAGGIO (JUDITH BEHEADING HOLFERNES-Caravaggio’s art reflects on the violence of life, the imperfection of humankind, the doubts of human belief in God, and the nature of human beings.)
Newly discovered but unsigned painting by Caravaggio found in a French attic.

Caravaggio’s use of light and dark is the principle challenge to a recently found work of art attributed to, but not signed by Caravaggio.  The objection is related to the use of a brown backdrop that enhances the light and shade characteristic of Caravaggio’s paintings.  The estimate value for the newly discovered version of JUDITH BEHEADING HOLFERNES is $100m.

WIRED TO CREATE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative MindWired to Create

Written by: Scott Barry Kaufman, Carolyn Gregorie

Narration by:  Nick Podehl

CAROLYN GREGORIE (SCIENCE WRITER FOR THE HUFFINGTON POST)
CAROLYN GREGORIE (SCIENCE WRITER FOR THE HUFFINGTON POST)

SCOTT BARRY KAUFMAN (AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST, AUTHOR, SCIENCE WRITER)
SCOTT BARRY KAUFMAN (AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST, AUTHOR, SCIENCE WRITER)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book “Wired to Create” is an internet sensation.  It began as an article in the Huffington Post; written by Carolyn Gregorie.  Based on the article, she co-writes a book with psychologist Scott Kaufman.  The book is promoted as a loss leader (no charge) to attract customers to Google e-books and other internet savvy vendors.  The book’s popularity is in the argument that intelligence is only one characteristic of a creative mind.  With IQ as only one characteristic of creativity, the field of human subjects who fit the definition of creative is broadened.

PICASSO'S BULL'S HEAD
PICASSO’S BULL’S HEAD

Scientists, inventors, artists, sales people, mechanics, technicians, sports stars, and other unnamed categories of people are “Wired to Create”.  This is no revelation.  It is not unusual to find friends or acquaintances that are able to think in three dimensions, rotate objects in their mind, come up with solutions to complex problems, or create art out of ordinary things.  Some of these creative people are great explainers; others are introverted and non-communicative.  Some recall events in perfect detail; others only remember broad outlines.  Some create art out of nothing; others say nothing about art but build cathedrals.

ST. SERNIN, TOLOUSE, FRANCE
ST. SERNIN, CATHEDRAL IN TOLOUSE, FRANCE

Kaufman and Gregorie identify some characteristics of creative minds.  There is the ability to hold opposing concepts in mind while rendering something never thought of before; i.e. like a work of art that shows planes of a human face from every angle in two dimensions.  There is a disruptive quality in a person with a creative mind.  That disruption is often seen in school students who cannot sit still, are always talking, and are constantly interrupting class activities.  It is the creative teacher who handles the disruption to gain participation of all students, including the disrupter.

STEVE WOZNIAK
STEVE WOZNIAK

STEVE JOBS (1955-2011)
STEVE JOBS (1955-2011)

Kaufman and Gregorie mention famous creative geniuses like Einstein, Edison, Wozniak, and Jobs who exhibit creativity in varied but similar ways.  Einstein may rise above the others because of a creative universality but each exhibit a passion and intensity for what they think and do.  Edison and Jobs are super salesmen; Wozniak is a tinkerer; Einstein is a conceptualizer. To varying degrees each practices the others’ skills.

“Wired to Create” notes that creativity is not restricted to either introverts or extroverts.  Creativity encompasses all sociological categories.  Creativity comes from persistence and resilience; driven by passion.

MIND DECONSTRUCTION AND RECONSTRUCTION OF EVENTS
(Competing theories of learning suggest human brain interaction with environment is too complex to measure; i.e. the way the brain reacts when stimulated by the environment is, at best, an evolving mystery.)

THOMAS EDISION (1847-1931, AMERICAN INVENTOR, BUSINESSMAN CONSIDERED BY SOME TO BE AMERICA'S GREATEST INVENTOR)
THOMAS EDISION (1847-1931, AMERICAN INVENTOR)

The authors note the many failures of creative people; e.g. people like Edison and J. K. Rowling.  The authors note that only a handful of Edison’s thousands of patented inventions were successful.

J. K. ROWLING (MOST FAMOUS FOR THE HARRY POTTER SERIES)
J. K. ROWLING (MOST FAMOUS FOR THE HARRY POTTER SERIES)

Rowling had many publishers turn Harry Potter down until one publisher accepted her work. The tortured personality theory of creativity is addressed by the authors but it is only one of many factors that make people think what they think and do what they do.  As noted with Einstein, Edison, Wozniak, Jobs and Rowling not all creative people are aberrantly affected by hyper activity, repeated failure, or intense focus.   Kaufman and Gregorie imply some creative people may have tortured personalities but correlation is not causation.

PAUL GAUGUIN (1848-1903, PAINTER, SCULPTUR)
PAUL GAUGUIN (1848-1903, PAINTER, SCULPTOR)

Gauguin is financially unsuccessful as an artist in his lifetime because of the public’s rejection of his work.  Gauguin’s paintings are sold for millions today.  Kaufman and Gregorie imply creativity is no guarantee of money, success, or happiness. Gauguin’s lack of success may have led to use of drugs but it seems as likely that penury and failed acceptance, rather than misunderstood creativity, is the proximate cause of death.  Taking drugs is a malady of the uncreative as well as the creative.

Vincent van Gogh, a contemporary of Gauguin, commits himself to an asylum in which he paints one of his most revered works of art, “The Starry Night”.  However, like Gauguin, van Gogh is never financially successful.  Gauguin and van Gogh succumb to the stresses of life; not because they are creative but because they are poor and unable to cope with their perceived failure.

VINCENT VAN GOGH (ONE OF MANY RENOWNED SELF PORTRAITS BECAUSE VAN GOGH COULD NOT AFFORD MODELS.)
VINCENT VAN GOGH (ONE OF MANY RENOWNED SELF PORTRAITS BECAUSE VAN GOGH COULD NOT AFFORD MODELS.)

Kaufman and Gregorie broaden the definition of creativity.  However, there seems little revelation in their suggestion that creativity comes from intense interest, average or higher IQs, hard work, and persistence in the face of rejection.  Talk of left brain, right brain activity, and frontal lobe brain waves are unconvincing physiological origins of creativity.  Play theory seems passé.  Competing theories of learning suggest human brain interaction with environment is too complex to measure; i.e. the way the brain reacts when stimulated by the environment is, at best, an evolving mystery.  Mysteries of the creative mind remain undiscovered.